Unlock the talent inside

Since 1962 the Koestler Awards have played a unique, national role in motivating prisoners, secure hospital patients and immigration detainees to take part in the arts. The Koestler Awards are simple and powerful – we reward achievement, build self-confidence and broaden horizons for some of society’s most disadvantaged and marginalised people.

Our work harnesses the uniquely transformative power of the arts to help individuals learn the skills and gain the confidence to live creative, positive and productive lives. Each year we receive more than 7,000 entries from over 3,500 entrants across the UK in 52 categories. More than 2,000 Awards are granted by over 100 esteemed judges, and each year culminates in a curated exhibition at Southbank Centre which showcases the incredible power of the arts to transform lives.

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Digital Art, HM Prison Wakefield, Commended Award for Digital Art, 2017

Koestler Awards 2018

The Koestler Awards will be open for entries from January 2018; the deadline for submissions is Friday 13 April 2018.

This year’s themed category is ‘Connections’. Have a go at producing a poem, drawing, painting, song or any other Koestler artform using the word ‘Connections’ as a theme.

This year the Koestler Trust has partnered with Synergy Theatre Project to develop the Stage Play category. All Stage Play entries will be read and judged by a team of theatre professionals and ex-prisoners. Every entry will receive written feedback. The winners will be announced in September, followed by a prize-giving ceremony and a rehearsed reading in the autumn at a leading London theatre, and in the relevant prison if the 1st prize winner is a serving prisoner. You can read our Stage Play guidelines here.

Entry Forms and Guidance Notes are now available to download from our website. Hard copies will be sent out to prisons, young offender institutions, secure training centres, secure children’s homes, immigration removal centres, and high/medium security hospitals in the new year.